Guest Post

David Bird’s Top Places to See Owls in Canada

By David M. Bird, Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology and former Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre at McGill University.

Consultant editor for DK’s Birds of Canada, Birds of Eastern Canada, Birds of Western Canada, and Pocket Birds of Canada, David Bird takes us on a flying tour through some of the best places to spot owls throughout the country.

A note on birdwatching

Unlike seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and migrating raptors, there are no guaranteed places to see owls with any regularity. With some exceptions such as Long-eared Owls, they do not generally roost in flocks; however they will concentrate in locations with super-abundant populations of voles during winter, especially when conditions are harsh. While some owl species are found in open habitats even in daytime (for example Snowy Owls, Great Gray Owls, and Hawk Owls), most require some heavy searching in thick forest and some luck to be seen.

Keeping an eye out for the more visible hawk species hunting in the daylight can give clues to an owl’s presence. If you see a Red-tailed Hawk frequenting a forest edge in the daytime, there is most likely a Great Horned Owl living in that same habitat. Similarly, if you see a Red-shouldered Hawk in a moist forest environment, chances are that Barred Owls are also there. The same goes for Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls. Sometimes crows and mixed flocks of songbirds will give away a roosting owl’s presence by calling frequently and harassing them.

Many owl species, especially in daytime, will allow an observer to approach, but keep in mind that flushing them deliberately (or accidentally) from their roosts wastes valuable energy that they could use for foraging, as well as placing them in potential danger from predators or even vehicles. Be respectful of owls in the wild and always keep the bird’s best interests in mind.

Baby Robot

"My 2 year old was mesmerized by this book ... a huge hit with both of my kids."

Ine Van Aken, Movies for Mommies Coquitlam B.C.

Six exciting sounds and sparkly LED lights will keep babies and toddlers entertained as they follow this charming story about a little robot who has lost his noisy sounds! Baby Robot is a unique, early learning light and sound book that is not only a great sensory toy for babies and toddlers but perfect for anyone who wants an imaginative, novelty book for little book lovers.

Tip:

While photographers are always welcome, avoid harassing the owls by chasing after them for that close-up shot, and above all, do not use live bait to attract them!

LEGO CITY Busy Word Book

"A hit with my girls ... they loved looking for all the hidden items."

Jennifer Vessey, Movies for Mommies Saskatchewan

LEGO CITY© is the perfect place for early readers to encounter lots of exciting words for the first time. There's always something happening, whether it's police officers catching crooks, firefighters training at the fire station, or hotdog vendors cooking up tasty snacks! LEGO CITY Busy Word Book includes than 500 words to help children learn the building blocks of language and learn useful and fun words that they can use in daily life.

Tip:

Visit http://www.neilyworld.com/neilyworld/amherst.htm for more information on how to best view the owls without harassing them.

Peek and Seek

"My youngest loved looking through the pages of this book and had fun finding everything!"

Carmen Kaethler, Movies for Mommies Winnipeg, Manitoba

With 28 objects to count and find in each illustrated animal scene, Peek and Seek is a lively search-and-find puzzle book with gatefold flaps and is positively packed with interactive fun! The charming illustrations and combination of gentle learning with fun activities will enable little ones to develop their hand-eye coordination, counting and observational skills, all the while being engaged and having fun!

Tip:

To find Northern Saw-whet Owls in cedars about 10 to 20 feet tall, you need to poke your head in and look carefully right up the trunk; they will usually stare down at you and not fly away, but do not overstay your welcome to avoid flushing them.

How to be a Big Kid

"We loved reading this with our son before bed every night...it helped us teach him some of the key day to day routines. It was so much fun to read!"

Wendy Giammarino, Movies for Mommies Vaughn, Ontario

Being little is hard work. There's so much for children to learn: tying their shoelaces, finding the right hole for each arm in a sweater, remembering to say "please" and "thank you," sharing toys with other children, and a whole bunch of other things, too. Then they're expected to go to school and learn even more. How to be a Big Kid is here to help children learn the skills they need to take care of themselves, get along with others and be ready for school!

Tip:

Consider booking a trip with Eagle-Eye Tours, specifically aimed at finding boreal owl species like Great Gray Owls, Boreal Owls, and Hawk Owls (www.eagle-eye.com/Manitoba-Owls-Tour).

Low Carb on the Go

"This book had some amazing and nutritious options to keep the energy up and the calories down."

Robyn Green, Owner and founder of Movies for Mommies Canada

Featuring more than 80 fast, healthy low-carbohydrate recipes for meals and snacks you can eat anywhere, anytime this book is filled with tips and tricks for healthy meal prep making it easy to plan your low-carb diet and stick to it with more than 80 delicious, healthy meals and snacks for anytime, anywhere.

Tip:

To learn about joining in on an Owl Prowl aimed at finding Northern Saw-whet Owls and run by the Nature Centre staff and volunteers in April of each year, email macphailwoods@gmail.com.

Movies for Mommies

Running weekly at a theatre near you, Movies for Mommies makes sure that Canadian parents are able to enjoy first run film matinees with Baby! Movies for Mommies screenings are not only a great chance to see a first-run film with in-theatre baby change tables, and reduced sound and to protect babies ears, dim lighting for babies comfort but screenings also include sampling and door prizes.